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The News in Brief

Wednesday, October 2
Georgia’s occupation on the agenda of CoE meetings

Russia’s occupation policy was the main issue at the session of the Council of Europe. Georgian Parliamentary Chairman, Davit Usupashvili, who is attending the session, called on European politicians to focus on the problem of the occupation of Georgian soil.

“Most of the meeting was dedicated to the issue of relations with Russia, in particular, the installation of barbed-wire fencing along the occupation line, and I gave a very sharp signal to our European colleagues and I am going to do the same at the meetings with all other political groups in these days,” Usupashvili said. (Rustavi 2)

Human rights defenders to study incidents of torture at prisons

Local and international human rights defenders are starting to study the incidents of torture in prisons one year after the release of the video footage showing torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners. NGOs held a presentation of the above-mentioned project at the Courtyard Marriott hotel on Tuesday explaining that the project aims at studying the motives of the torture and inhumane treatment in prisons. During the study, prisoners and former prisoners will be interviewed. The presentation was opened by the Minister of Legal Assistance and Corrections, his deputies and 10 non-governmental organizations. The presentation was attended by representatives of international organizations, including the senior researcher of Human Rights Watch and Baroness Vivien Pern, who is a member of the British House of Lords.

The project will last for three years and the first results will be published in the first half of 2014. The initiator of the project is Open Society – Georgia. Under the project, NGOs will prepare a recommendation for the government. (IPN)

Turkmenistan to open embassy in Georgia

Turkmenistan will open an embassy in Georgia, Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said after a meeting with Turkmen Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiyev in Tbilisi on Monday.

According to her, initially, the diplomatic mission will cover Georgia from Yerevan.

Panjikidze stressed that Georgia has already opened an embassy in Turkmenistan.

"The first meeting between the parties was held in Ashgabat in 2010. Nothing happened after this and we decided to intensify our relations," the Foreign Minister said.

She also stressed that the cooperation in the spheres of education and culture were also discussed between the parties. "Turkmenistan is willing to send its students to Georgia," Panjikidze added. (Trend)

Georgian citizens abroad may vote in presidential elections in over 35 countries

Some 52 polling stations will be opened in 44 cities of 37 countries for the Georgian presidential elections, which will be held on October 27. The country's citizens will be able to vote for their presidential candidate in these polling stations, the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday. According to unofficial data, some 1.5 million Georgian citizens live abroad. According to the report, most of the polling stations will be opened in Greece: four in Athens and three in Thessaloniki. Three polling stations for each will operate in Azerbaijan (Baku), the U.S. (one in Washington and two in New York), Turkey (Ankara, Istanbul and Trabzon), as well as Ukraine ( Kyiv, Odessa and Donetsk ). Two polling stations will be opened in Spain - in Madrid and Barcelona. One polling station for each will be opened in other countries. In particular, polling stations for the Georgian presidential elections will be opened in Vienna, Minsk, Brussels, Sofia, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Cairo, Tallinn, Aman, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Rome, Ottawa, Nicosia, Riga, Vilnius, Kishinev, The Hague, Warsaw, Bucharest, Paris, Bratislava, Yerevan, Tashkent, Budapest, Kuwait, Astana, Stockholm, Bern and Prague. (Trend)

Protesters set up wire block outside Ivanishvili’s house

The organization Droa protested outside Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s business center Monday evening, installing barbed wires at the entrance. Police prohibited them from blocking the road with wires, so they placed them on the sidewalk. The people who gathered at the PM’s house claim they will never accept the recent actions by Russian soldiers, who are installing razor wire and moving the border further into Georgia-controlled territory, making the locals cut down their trees and dismantle their houses. “None of the government officials have been to Ditsi and Dvani or made statements in support of the local population,” said one of the protesters. “They are insulting the Georgian people with their inaction.” The protesters sang the Georgia national anthem and called on the prime minister to react to what they say is a creeping occupation. (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Man doused himself in gasoline in Tbilisi

A man attempted to set himself on fire at a protest rally in front of Tbilisi City Hall on Monday.

Pouring gasoline over himself the man said he has nothing in this world and there is no point in living. Protesters and police managed to stop him and took away his matches and jacket, which was soaked in gasoline. The rally was organized by the socially vulnerable, members of the veteran’s union, refugees and IDPs as well as people hurt by mortgage loans. They demanded that city hall sets up an apartment fund to take care of homeless people.

Protesters brought a funeral bouquet with a portrait of Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, as well as broomsticks with roses attached. Roses are the symbol of the Rose Revolution and the National Movement party, while broomsticks symbolize the prison abuse scandal, which shocked Georgians shortly before the parliamentary election in 2012, as the public learned about the torture and mistreatment methods at Georgian prisons.

A mourning song was playing at the rally as a message to the mayor that he is doing nothing for his city, organizers explained. Mamuka Katsarava, head of Tbilisi City Hall’s social service and cultural department, says that the issue of creating an apartment fund can only be decided on the level of legislation. He said the form of protest seen Monday is unacceptable and that city hall will not fulfill their demands. He said the country has a policy of social protection to support socially vulnerable families.

Katsarava said that Georgia doesn’t have any apartment funds, but he thinks parliament should work on this issue.

“We will do everything in order to identify the most vulnerable families.” he said. “We will try to assist them individually, but we will not encourage this form of protest in this country.” (Democracy & Freedom Watch)

Georgia continues to struggle with consequences of bad weather

Natural disasters still continue in the mountainous region of Svaneti (Western Georgia), in Mestia district. Rain and snow cut off from the outside world Adishi village, roads in Zemo and Kvemo Verdi are damaged; there is an avalanche situation in Lahamura.

The Ministry of Regional development and Infrastructure has allocated 291,000 lari to restore them," the head of the municipality of Mestia, Kapiton Zhorzholiani, said.

According to him, Adishi village has been cut off from the outside world. Allocated funds should be directed to clear the road. The commission on assessment of the damage caused by the disasters is working in the villages of Ushguli, Tsvirmishi, Kala, Pari and in the villages where the disasters have destroyed the entire crop. In the Mestia district it was raining all day on Sunday as well, but on Monday morning it began snowing. The amount of damage caused by the natural disasters to the municipality will be known soon. All night long it was snowing in Becho. (Trend)